That Was Then
I have some unfinished business with the SCNCA Elite Criterium Championships, which is now 4 days away. I am already visualizing the fast and technical race, the many scenarios that could unfold, and how my super-awesome-talented-HAWT teammates of Team Revolution/ZOCA and I will handle them. The ability to see riders in a break across the median, the noise from the crowd, the announcing, and the downtown location in Brentwood make it an exciting race. Add the few pro riders that usually attend and it’s ON FIRE!
Last year, the stars aligned for this race. My fitness was awesome, my team was racing in an excellent way, and our confidence was high. Despite a little sliding action early on in the race by me, the team was racing well and in every move. After I re-entered the race (stay calm, make your way to the pit, get back in, assess the race), I quickly found a groove, which happened to be right on SoCal-bred sprint phenom Coryn Rivera’s wheel.
“Oh my God, I better not let her out of my sight! I can’t believe I’m HEEEEERRREEEE!” I said to myself like I little school girl.
I followed twice, like white on rice (as I remember it), and on the third surge on the backside of the course, a bee flew right into my lip and stung me. I tried for an entire lap to get the stinger out to no avail. I was concerned for my airway due to an anaphylactic reaction just 2 months earlier (from something else, but THE scariest thing I’ve ever experienced), so I pulled out with tears in my eyes from the disappointment of not being able to finish the race.
As I sat in the medical tent with only 15 minutes of the race left, I couldn’t help but think of all the times I made excuses as to why I couldn’t race. I don’t mean line up, pedal hard, and sprint at the end. I mean REALLY RACE: digging deep a la Jens Voigt, focusing on the here and now, leaving all the mental crap in the car, and leaving all the physical energy I can possibly expend out on the race course – and a tiny little bee had taken away that day’s opportunity.
Then I saw a rider whiz by. Seconds later, the group was in a full on chase with mouths open, sitting on the nose of the saddle, quads bulging. I wanted more of THAT! I wanted to be out there slicing the air with my carbon wheels, riding single file with the pros, and pushing myself to the limit for the chance to get to the final sprint where all goes black and quiet except the finish line, the fire in my lungs, and my Inner Coach yelling, “GO, GO, GO, GOOOOOOO!!!!”
So, the little bee that died that day did not die without making a mark on this world. She helped me decide to race to my full mental and physical ability in every race I enter. I can’t control everything (Screw you bee!) and as the saying goes, shit happens, but I can control my mind and my legs.
This is Now
Now that I’ve reflected on what I learned last year, it’s time to focus on this year’s race. I know the course, I know my team (and have full confidence in their abilities and decisions), and I know my-racing-self better, so bring the pain and SHUT UP LEGS!